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President Napolitano Proposes Tuition Freeze, New Systemwide Initiatives

November 18, 2013

University of California President Janet Napolitano last week announced several initiatives after visits to UC campuses and meetings with students, faculty and staff members and others during her first six weeks on the job. The initiatives reflect what she has learned about issues of the most pressing concern universitywide as well as her own values.

Additionally, to allow time to explore what she called a new UC tuition policy, Napolitano said systemwide tuition and fees for California undergraduates would remain at the current level for the 2014-15 academic year.

In her first remarks to the UC Board of Regents since assuming the presidency Sept. 30, Napolitano said her deep immersion in the “ways and wonders of the University of California” over the past weeks have led her to undertake new initiatives “offered in the spirit of the constant pursuit for better pathways forward, for new mountains to climb.”

New Tuition Policy

  • President Napolitano has proposed a freeze on tuition levels for the 2014-15 academic year and will begin exploring a new UC tuition policy to reduce pricing volatility and provide students and their families with predictability in the cost of education.
  • One option to be considered is “cohort tuition,” which ensures that tuition levels students pay when they enter the university will not dramatically increase during their four undergraduate years. Other options will also be explored.
  • The president’s ultimate goal is to keep tuition as low and predictable as possible. This will require a close partnership with state government and ongoing analysis of both other revenue sources and cost avoidances.

Services for Undocumented Students ($5 million)

  • UC welcomes all academically qualified students, whether documented or undocumented. Compared to other UC students, undocumented students are more likely to be from low-income families or the first in their families to attend college. Undocumented students are also more likely to lack access to resources available to other students (such as federal loans or work-study). To help undocumented students overcome these obstacles, and improve their retention and graduation rates, the university will expand access to financial and student services support.
  • The university will provide new funding for student loans and work-study positions for students who demonstrate financial need and who qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid, but who are ineligible for federal loans or work-study. UC will explore a state-funded program, which could become revenue-neutral over time.
  • New funding also will focus on expanding student services for undocumented students, including staff and/or resource centers, coordination with community-based legal and financial resources and counseling. UC also will train campus staff members who work with undocumented students, hold undocumented student advisory-group meetings and develop a resource website.

Community College Transfers

  • UC will explore increasing and streamlining the flow of California community college students into the university, focusing on improving the transfer rate and the success of these students.
  • Staff will make recommendations to the Board of Regents at the March meeting. These may include more outreach to community colleges with low-transfer rates or a high percentage of low-income students, ways to streamline the transfer process and expanding programs such as Summer Bridge.

Graduate Student Recruitment and Diversity ($5 million)

  • The University of California is committed to increasing support for its graduate student population and improving the diversity of this group. This initiative will build on current efforts, including the UC-HBCU Initiative (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowships.
  • UC will fund fellowships for students from the UC-HBCU Initiative who are admitted to UC Ph.D. programs. Campuses will apply for the funds to attract specific candidates from the HBCU intern pool to their Ph.D. programs.
  • Funding will also focus on increasing the number of Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowships. Currently, this money supports Ph.D. students who experience situations that impede their advancement to graduate study (such as physical or learning disabilities, or having to work while attending school). Support is also given to students with research interests focused on cultural, societal or educational problems that affect the educationally disadvantaged, or to those who wish to use their degrees to serve educationally underrepresented populations.

Support for Post-doc Fellowships ($5 million)

  • The President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports new scholars whose teaching, research and service contribute to UC’s mission to serve our increasingly diverse state, nation and world. The goal of this new initiative is to increase the hiring of postdoctoral fellows into the UC ladder-rank faculty and help them succeed. Funding will be dedicated to hiring incentives, mentoring and professional development.

Research and Tech Transfer

  • The university will explore new ways to speed the translation of ideas and inventions developed by UC researchers and students into products and services that benefit the world.
  • This new effort will build on work already being done and enhance UC’s technology transfer productivity. This will include streamlining existing processes; supporting researchers by providing additional graduate students and world-class facilities, removing barriers that slow the pace of tech transfer and better investment in technology commercialization.

Zero Net Energy Consumption

  • President Napolitano is calling for UC to become a zero net energy consumer by 2025. The goal is to generate as much energy as we use and for that energy to be clean. This effort to stop the overuse of natural resources and encourage more aggressive sustainability efforts will unite UC’s cutting-edge research and world-class scientists with the political goodwill of state leaders.

Efficiency Review

  • As she has done in her previous roles in other organizations, President Napolitano is looking for ways UC can work better and reduce operating costs. She has asked staff members to begin an efficiency review of the Office of the President and identify new savings and potential cost avoidances.
  • UC will also build on existing efforts to attract and expand new revenue sources, including grants, public-private partnerships, joint ventures and philanthropy.
  • The goal is to maximize and become even better stewards of existing funding – both from the state and other sources – and continue to meet UC’s education and research missions.